After a 3-day partial lockdown, the state is back to business with “restrictions.” Casinos are closed until May 10, hotels remain open as there is no ban on tourists and restaurants are open with 50% seating capacity or for takeaways only. With neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra under strict lockdown, drive-in tourists have also dropped significantly.
Diana, who asked not to be named in fear of repercussions at work, works for an international hotel chain and the thought of another long lockdown stresses her out.
When the pandemic first hit India in March 2020, the hotel where Diana then worked closed its doors and Diana worked remotely until she took on a new job at this international hotel chain. Diana’s husband also worked for her previous employer in event management and soon, there were no events to manage.
“We used our cash wedding gifts (the couple married in late 2019) to keep us going during the pandemic,” says Diana.
Then both Diana and her husband tested positive for COVID-19. “It was a horrible experience and it (the second wave) worries me a lot. Thank God I can work from home during this lockdown,” she says.
There are more layoffs in the offing. “The hotels have asked staff to go on leave-without-pay again as there is no occupancy and the situation is so uncertain,” says Diana. “We’re stuck either way: If we have guests, we might get infected but if there’s no occupancy our jobs are at risk.”
It is a challenging time for the tourism industry in Goa already reeling under the impact of a lost year. A report published by the Goa Tourism Ministry in December 2020 says the Indian state’s tourism sector may have downsized anywhere between 35% to 58% during the pandemic.
“Every hotel has been given a target to hire maximum women but in my personal experience women who are married or have children, especially are overlooked because they might not be able to handle the long hours that the industry demands. That is the perception,” says Diana.
On May 1, Indians between the ages of 18–45 became eligible for their shot. “We tried registering on the CoWin website (a government requirement) but it wasn’t allowing us to register,” Diana says the previous week. “Even if we register, I don’t think there are enough vaccines to go around.”